Thank you to the author for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons is available now.
What a delightful book! The adventure in Miss Percy’s Guide might not include epic sword fights or swashbuckling moments (although Miss Percy is certainly not lacking in the ‘derring-do’ department). I was on the edge of my seat nonetheless. Mildred Percy is an extremely likable main character, and I loved rooting for her to succeed.
Miss Percy’s Guide to the Care of Feeding of British Dragons has an unexpected beginning. Mildred is a quiet, introverted spinster ( I can relate to the first two things), who lives in her sister’s home and takes care of her sister’s children. Despite this being a longstanding arrangement, Mildred’s sister makes it abundantly clear that Mildred is a guest who is there only through her kindness, happily ignoring the fact that Mildred is basically raising those kids. Mildred is rather resigned to not having an existence of her own when she receives an inheritance from a great uncle she barely knew. Hidden in among a bunch of paperwork is an honest-to-goodness dragon egg.
The hatching of the dragon and the challenges of having a dangerous hatching is tackled by Mildred, a certain vicar, and his bustling housekeeper. The growing relationship between Mildred and Mr. Wiggan (the vicar) was so much fun to read! If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you’ll know that literary romance and I don’t always mix. However, it was done so subtly and sweetly that, much like the kid in A Princess Bride, I didn’t mind so much. Mrs. Babbinton, the housekeeper, vied with Mildred for the elevated Favorite Character spot. She made me laugh with her no-nonsense approach and her habit of plying everyone with copious amounts of food at every opportunity.
A book like this needs obstacles of some sort and author Quenby Olson was so clever in hers! There was Mildred’s niece Belinda, a conniving and manipulative brat who uses her “charms” to get her way and is petulant and sometimes even cruel when that doesn’t work. Add in a poor and desperate young man who is certain that the egg should be his (his father having lost it to Mildred’s great uncle during some drunken gambling), and you get an intimidating and desperate villainous duo. There’s Mildred’s older sister as well, who had ground poor Mildred down into a long-suffering person who takes what she gets and almost thinks she deserves it. Almost. And this leads to my very favorite, and cleverest villain, of all: Mildred herself. She has to fight against her own self-doubt and injured self-esteem all throughout the book. Each victory against herself (so to speak) had me cheering.
There were excerpts from Mildred’s guide to dragons at the beginning of each chapter, which added an extra dose of fantastic to a book that I had already fallen in love with. Of course, I can’t forget the dragon. What a great choice of catalyst! I’m sure at this point it is crystal clear that I loved everything about the book.
Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons is wonderful, a perfect cozy read. Pick it up if you want a smile in book form.